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‘Dracula A.D. 1972’: when the iconic vampire met the hippies

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The history of the cinematic representation of vampires is a particularly rich and interesting one, dating back to the monumental masterpiece that was F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu. While many actors have garnered praise for the enigmatic mythical entities, Christopher Lee will always be remembered as one of the greatest to have donned the shiny fangs of Count Dracula.

Through his appearances in multiple Hammer productions, Lee solidified his status as a true legend of the horror genre. Due to the iconic nature of his image as Dracula on the big screen, most fans immediately associate the character with Lee’s characteristic facial expressions and the mesmerising aura he created.

Although his initial portrayals of Count Dracula were examples of true brilliance, the acclaimed actor grew weary of some of the poor creative decisions that plagued his final Hammer flicks in the Dracula series. One such work is Alan Gibson’s anachronistic Dracula A.D. 1972, bringing the mythological framework into a contemporary framework for younger audiences.

Lee is as towering as ever as the titular antagonist who is resurrected in modern London, brought back from eternal slumber only to be confronted by hippies. It’s a premise that is not nearly as interesting as the original mythological foundation of the character but is still fun at times because of campy elements and thrilling action scenes.

In his autobiography, Lee wrote that this project was one of the final straws: “At the age of fifty, I took the firm decision to Draculate no more. The deciding factors were Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula. The former had certain things in its favour. I was, to begin with, aghast at the plan to bring the story into modern times, but a compromise was effected whereby at least his Gothic homestead and the church were retained.”

The actor added: “I reflected that the Victorian period was arbitrary, the accident of Stoker’s having lived at that time, and that, after all, Lon Chaney Jr. as Count Alucard had erupted into a jazz ballroom. All the same, the hippy idiom used was already out of date when the film was made, and the programme at large felt wrong to me. That was just about bearable, with strong misgivings.”

Laughably bad horror flicks like Dracula A.D. 1972 have found a new life in horror circles who appreciate the kitsch, transcending the critical backlash of its time to intrigue younger generations of audiences for whom the setting is no longer modern.

Watch the trailer below.

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